If nobody believed in superstition it would be unable to hurt anyone
Hallucinations and how they impact on the
evidence for miracles
Miracles are events like magic. Religion says God does them. God makes all things out of nothing so he can do them. Making things out of nothing is a miracle.
When a person makes a strange magical report you may suspect hallucination. You need absolute proof before you can accuse a person of having hallucinated. That is a person’s sanity and reliability you are questioning. If you suspect a miracle then you need far more proof. Why? Because hallucinations happen more easily than miracles and can be identified more handily than miracles do or can. You need to believe in the stability of natural law to believe in hallucinations but miracles are different for they deny the stability and you need stronger evidence for them. Therefore belief in hallucinations and accepting nature is not inconsistent with opposition to belief in miracles.
If we can believe that the things and laws around us are there though it could be that we are hallucinating then some say “that we can still believe in them if we admit miracles for miracles like hallucinations change the course nature usually takes from our perspective.”
Nature can tell us when a hallucination has taken place but this does not mean it can tell us when a miracle has happened enabling us to trust nature the rest of the time. Therefore believers in miracles should not be insisting that when we believe in nature despite the fact we could be hallucinating miracles do not deaden our faith in nature either for both hallucinations and miracles affect how we see natural law.
Religion says we might be hallucinating and not know it and that does not mean that we mistrust the laws of nature. It says that in a similar way belief in miracles does not encourage us to mistrust nature.
If miracles deny that natural law is fixed and reliable then they deny that there is evidence for anything. Believers want to hold that a miracle does not refute all evidence for natural law still exists and it tells us that a miracle has happened. But the problem is that nature can never ever prove a miracle has happened and to say it does is to say you know every single law of the universe. So belief in hallucinations not undermining belief in nature does not mean that belief in miracles does not do that either.
Religion says, "You can’t say that all visions are lies or hallucinations. You would need to get evidence against all of them to be able to say that. It would be very arrogant and biased."
It is not arrogant or biased to say they might be lies or hallucinations. Even if there is evidence they are not and that some of them are real miracles, there will always be a part of the believer that is sceptical.
Religion talks about God putting thoughts in your head when he gives you inspiration and guidance. He does that all the time anyway so how do we know which thoughts are right or wrong? You need the thoughts put in to perceive a miracle. It is religion not us that gets close to saying all who witness to miracles have been manipulated and have hallucinated that the perception of miracles they get is their own perception.
Further Reading ~
A Christian Faith for Today, W Montgomery Watt, Routledge, London, 2002
Answers to Tough Questions, Josh McDowell and Don Stewart, Scripture Press, Bucks, 1980
Apparitions, Healings and Weeping Madonnas, Lisa J Schwebel, Paulist Press, New York, 2004
A Summary of Christian Doctrine, Louis Berkhof, The Banner of Truth Trust, London, 1971
Catechism of the Catholic Church, Veritas, Dublin, 1995
Catholicism and Fundamentalism, Karl Keating, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 1988
Enchiridion Symbolorum Et Definitionum, Heinrich Joseph Denzinger, Edited by A Schonmetzer, Barcelona, 1963
Looking for a Miracle, Joe Nickell, Prometheus Books, New York, 1993
Miracles, Rev Ronald A Knox, Catholic Truth Society, London, 1937
Miracles in Dispute, Ernst and Marie-Luise Keller, SCM Press Ltd, London, 1969
Lourdes, Antonio Bernardo, A. Doucet Publications, Lourdes, 1987
Medjugorje, David Baldwin, Catholic Truth Society, London, 2002
Miraculous Divine Healing, Connie W Adams, Guardian of Truth Publications, KY, undated
New Catholic Encyclopaedia, The Catholic University of America and the McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc, Washington, District of Columbia, 1967
Philosophy of Religion for A Level, Anne Jordan, Neil Lockyer and Edwin Tate, Nelson Throne Ltd, Cheltenham, 2004
Raised From the Dead, Father Albert J Hebert SM, TAN, Illinois 1986
Science and the Paranormal, Edited by George O Abell and Barry Singer, Junction Books, London, 1981
The Demon-Haunted World, Carl Sagan, Headline, London, 1997
The Book of Miracles, Stuart Gordon, Headline, London, 1996
The Case for Faith, Lee Strobel, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2000
The Encyclopaedia of Unbelief Volume 1, Gordon Stein, Editor, Prometheus Books, New York, 1985
The Hidden Power, Brian Inglis, Jonathan Cape, London, 1986
The Sceptical Occultist, Terry White, Century, London, 1994
The Stigmata and Modern Science, Rev Charles Carty, TAN, Illinois, 1974
Twenty Questions About Medjugorje, Kevin Orlin Johnson, Ph.D. Pangaeus Press, Dallas, 1999
Why People Believe Weird Things, Michael Shermer, Freeman, New York, 1997
The Problem of Competing Claims by Richard Carrier